Hey Everyone!

We are proud to announce that Graphic Universe’s dynamic writing and translating duo of Drs. Anne and Owen Smith will be signing copies of standout GU titles this December 8, 11:00am – 1:00pm, at the Barnes & Noble in the Baker Pattillo Student Center at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

We hope you can all make it!

The Graphic Universe Crew


Photo by Mainuddinhaque and available through the Creative Commons

When I turned on NPR Monday morning I learned that Joseph Murray had died at the age of 93. Back in in 1954, he had performed the first successful kidney transplant. I had never heard of the man until this year, when some research brought me across his story. Without offering too much of a spoiler, I can say that the plot of Mortensen’s Escapades #4: The Secret Mummy involves organ transplant to some degree.

The history of early organ transplantation is really remarkable stuff. Remarkable, and tragic. Murray’s success was proceeded (and followed) by so many failures. Little was know about the immune system back then. Organs were rejected and patients died. But things started to change on 1954.

Here’s an expert from The Secret Mummy back matter. To learn more about kidneys and transplantation, look for the book this spring. I also recommend Organ Transplantation by David Petechuk, part of which can be read for free on Google Books.

The idea of organ transplantation is an old one. One of the earliest known references states that in 500 B.C. a Chinese doctor swapped the hearts of two soldiers (according to legend, they lived to tell the tale). In truth, organ transplantation only became a reality in the 20th century. To save the lives of sick patients, surgeons tried to transplant human kidneys and also kidneys from animals such as monkeys and lambs. Initially, all these attempts were met with failure. The human immune system rejects and destroys foreign tissue and organs, so transplanted kidneys didn’t last long. However, transplants between identical twins fare much better because they have body parts that are genetically similar. The first successful kidney transplant was performed in 1954 by Boston surgeon Joseph E. Murray. Richard Herrick received a kidney donated by his identical twin, Ronald.

With modern advancements in tissue matching and immunosuppressive drugs, the success rate of kidney transplantation is much higher. Today, about 90 percent of the kidney transplants that come from living donors are successful.

Graphic Universe and Lerner participated in a variety of events last week. On Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th the NYC Department of Education 2012 Conference was held at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School at 135th Street in upper Manhattan—a gathering where teachers and librarians attend lectures, presentations and conferences. Educational Publishers like ours (and Rosen, Abdo, Holiday House) set up booths in the school’s gymnasium. I presented our spring 2013 list in one of the classrooms.

NYC Dept. of Education Fall Conference at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School on November 6th.

Coinciding with this event was Graphic Universe’s author-artist Zeina Abirached arrival in New York, following a conference she attended at the University of Cincinnati. Zeina, with her agent Nicolas Grivel on hand, signed and illustrated her starred review book, A Game for Swallows, which drew an impressive number of attendees to our table. She participated in a variety of other activities during the week as well.

Zeina Abirached, author-artist of A Game for Swallows signing copies of her book (top); Graphic Universe Editorial Assistant Robyn Chapman, Ms. Abirached, Graphic Universe Editorial Director Carol Burrell, and Nicolas Grivel on hand at the NYC Dept. of Ed. Conference (bottom).

On Thursday, November 8, she was invited to take part on a panel discussion in front of a large crowd at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy on Fifth Avenue. The event was moderated by Françoise Mouly, art editor of the The New Yorker. Six French Speaking comic artists were on hand to discuss their remarkable careers and field questions from the audience. In addition to Zeina, the participants included Nine Antico, Blexbolex, Anouk Ricard, Florent Ruppert, and Clément Baloup. The event was followed by a reception in the adjacent hall. It was a cool party in a grand historic building—the kind that looked as though it had been inhabited by a business tycoon from a previous century.

Zeina Abirached sitting on a panel at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Manhattan.

The French Comic Book Party at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy on November 8th.

Then on Saturday, November 10th, Zeina was invited to sell and sign copies of her book at the jammed-packed Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival in Williamsburg. The festival’s organizer, Bill Kartalopoulos, was gracious to invite Zeina to present Swallows at his booth. Also, Graphic Universe Editorial Assistant Robyn Chapman was there to promote her new art instruction manual Drawing Comics Lab: 52 Exercises on Characters, Panels, Storytelling, Publishing & Professional Practices.

All in all it was a production week, especially considering what just happened during Hurricane Sandy a week earlier.

A large crowd at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival on November 10th.

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